How to respond to a rude email?

Emails are the accepted form of communication in a professional setup. This form of interaction has replaced office memos and notes. In fact, it is the preferred mode of interaction in offices even for simple exchanges. It is a soft communication platform where people interact about a subject, notify about an event or any other purpose.

Hence, it is inevitable that you will be at the receiving end of some rude and unprofessional emails.

Rude emails can be the use of abusive and derogatory language to disrespect the reader. The foul language used can be counted as harassment or threat and is subject to legal action.

Use of capital letters to emphasize a point or indicate anger or frustration can be counted as rude.

Doing away with basic courtesies of address. Sometimes an email without any greeting of a simple hi and starting off with “Get this done “or “See to it” comes off as a command or dominance and signifies discourtesy.

Rude emails to employees may send bad impressions

Don’t let bad vibes enter your good conversation while sending out emails.

Another rude email can be when one that points out mistakes and gets personal about your abilities.

So how does one respond to rude emails?

*First and foremost, one should never respond to such emails in a huff and commit the same crime.

*Take your time to write out an effective response. Before you take any rash decision, think this through:

*Is it worth your time replying to the email?

*How does it affect you professionally?

*Additionally, sometimes jokes, sarcasm, and some cultural differences in the workplace may be interpreted as rudeness. Check with colleagues if this person communicates in this manner.

*Always make a copy of the rude email.

*If it is very offensive and abusive, then share it with the HR department and let them handle the issue.

*If it has come sans any greeting, do the same.

*Give a point-wise answer to each issue raised. Let it be solution-based.

*Do not unnecessarily add to the drama by CCing more people.

Deal with it singularly.

The best way to put someone in their place when they’re rude to you is to kill them with kindness. Always send the response as a one-to-one email, even if the initial email was a group broadcast message.

A dispassionate reply is the best.

When crafting your response, be sure to first draft it out. If you hit the reply button and start writing, then you are sure to be sending something you might want to recall.

Start the email on the lines of “Your email came across as a bit rude/harsh in tone. I’m not sure if that was intentional or not.”

This immediately lets the sender know that you have taken note of breach of professional lines.

Next, if you were in the wrong in any way, be sure to own up to it and apologize. For example, “I’m sorry that I missed your deadline. I’ve got a lot on my plate.”

Offer to help clarify things further in person. Avoid using all caps, bold, exclamation marks or sarcasm and of course, expletives.

Here’s a short example:


Thanks for your email. Your message came across as a bit rude. I’m not sure if this was intentional or not. Your email has a distinct dis-respectful tone.

Here’ I am attaching the status of the project. It is on time.

[Explain further details]

I’d be happy to clarify things in person if you need.


Lastly, it is important to know when it’s time for a conversation to be taken offline. Whether face-to-face, a phone call or a video call, take the problem there instead of carrying on a back and forth on a chain of emails.

Having an offline conversation helps in getting the tone, expressions etc. right. In most cases, it might just be a stop in a teacup. If not; then having it off in-person is the thing!

Anna Verasai
Anna Versai is a Team Writer at The HR Digest; she covers topics related to Recruitment, Workplace Culture, Interview Tips, Employee Benefits, HR News and HR Leadership. She also writes for Technowize, providing her views on the Upcoming Technology, Product Reviews, and the latest apps and softwares.

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